In what world could a World Series hero and Cy Young candidate with a Baseball Savant page almost exclusively in at least the 90th percentile need to step up further? Is there even a level higher to go?
While not much more can be asked of Javier with regards to ERA, strikeouts, or even no-hitters, there is one specific area in which he needs to grow in order to blossom into a true ace. Javier must go deeper into ball games. As a pitcher that works out of the zone, Javier often works deep into counts, elevating his pitch count and limiting how long he lasts in his starts.
Even before McCullers was hurt, Houston was going to feel JV’s departure. Verlander was a workhorse, ensuring the bullpen was preserved every fifth/sixth day, whether he had his best stuff or not. Now down LMJ as well, Houston has an innings void to fill if their bullpen will be as dominant was it was in 2022. Houston needs the same bullpen performance if it is to repeat in 2023.
Javier has fluctuated between starter and reliever his first three years in the bigs. He’s never exceed even 150 innings If he is to truly become a bona fide ace and the Astros are going to have an intact bullpen come October, Javier needs to consistently go six innings per start and approach, or even surpass, the 175 innings threshold.